Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God
Developer: Compile Heart, ZeroDiv
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platforms: PlayStation Vita (Reviewed)
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Price: $39.99 – Available Here
The rogue-like role playing game feels as though it sits in a niche carved deep within the fires of Mount Doom. Many see it as a genre too deep and obscure to ever carve their way through. Other brave adventurers spend days, months, or years harvesting the gold carved that runs deep within. Now Compile Heart and Aksys Games are trying to put their own flavor on the rogue-like dish – curry, to be exact. How does their newest offering, Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God hold up? Should it be served at all of the finest restaurants or taken out with the trash?
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God hits release in the west but maintains all of the usual notes Japanese connoisseurs have accustomed their palate to. The story focuses around a young girl named Pupuru who attends school at the local Magic Academy. After cheating her way to a perfect score, she’s chosen to represent her class in a grueling climb through a monster-infested tower. When she reaches the top, the item she has to retrieve is gone, but she finds an ancient curry recipe book. When her teacher sees that she’s failed to retrieve the item, she is suspended from school. On her way home, she stops in at her favorite curry restaurant only to find out that it’s in danger of closing its doors forever. She promises to retrieve all the ingredients and make a magical curry that will save the tiny restaurant, and thus her adventures begin.
Gameplay in Curse of the Great Curry God will quickly feel familiar to folks who’ve tried their hand at rogue-like RPGs in the past. You’ll control Pupuru as she navigates and fights though each dungeon. Each action you take is considered to constitute a turn, whether as a single step forward, healing yourself, casting a spell, changing a piece of equipment, or otherwise. For each action you take, every other creature on the dungeon’s floor also takes a turn. As with so many other rogue-likes, this produces a fun, rhythmic cadence to your actions while setting up for some intense tactical choices.
With each dungeon you enter, Pupuru will start at level 1 in terms of her personal progression. With each monster you slaughter, you’ll gain experience and levels, quickly building your stats for the increasingly more difficult floors of the dungeons you explore. It offers a great sense of progression as you begin anew and spend a couple of hours going through a dungeon, but the lack of long-term statistical progression can feel somewhat jarring. Whether you complete the dungeon or fail miserably, you’ll still be at level 1 the next time you start a dungeon.
Pupuru isn’t entirely alone as she quests for magical curry ingredients. A small creature named Kuu soon joins her. He’ll do his best to help Pupuru fend off the nasty monsters in every dungeon. Kuu’s help isn’t entirely free, though. The small Pokémon-esque tagalong has a voracious appetite, and he needs to be fed often in order both stay alive and be effective. You can satiate him for a time by throwing items in your inventory at him. Swords, shields, healing items, and more are all fair game to his enormous appetite. There are some added benefits to feeding him extra items, though, since he gains levels through eating. Every so many levels, he also gets an ability. This can be an active ability Pupuru can utilize (melding items together) or passive abilities such as higher health recovery to resistance to poison. It presents a fun, unique dynamic that gives you something to distract yourself apart from the dungeon crawl.
Apart from Kuu, Pupuru will meet a whole host of colorful, humorous characters on her journey. From the perpetually wish-washy curry-seeker Puni to the Demon turned puppy-in-love, to the bumbling, misguided antics of three want-to-be heroes hired beat Pupuru to the ingredients and more, everyone keeps the story fun and light-hearted. The story is full of entertaining, laughable humor and general goof to keep you interested. It’s a welcome break from the hard-nosed save-the-world darkness, even if the core game is hard enough to break your teeth.
As you work through each dungeon, you’ll grab tons of items. Weaponry and gear can be equipped or thrown, magic scrolls can be learned or used, ingredients can be combined to make various temporary stat-boosting curries, and more. Your bags are limited to only 24 items, though, so you’ll spend a lot of time managing your inventory, dishing out items to Kuu, and so on. Beyond that, some items can carry curses that are only lifted once you’re out of a dungeon. Inventory management feels somewhat cumbersome, but no more than any other rogue-like.
The one thing that may, unfortunately, turn folks off of Sorcery Saga is its rogue-like nature. You can quickly find yourself outnumbered and taking a beating. Death carries harsh penalties, not the least of which is the loss of all your time spent working through the dungeon. Still, though things can sometimes feel stacked against you, overall the experience is both manageable and rewarding.
Sorcery Saga works hard to present you with a great looking experience. Character models looks bright and colorful with cartoonish aesthetic to it. In conversations, beautiful 2D anime sprites do a great job keeping the story going. When a lot of enemies are on-screen and taking their turns, the game can present some visual chugging, but it’s ultimately inconsequential. The endearing look will win the hearts of those who want to spend time with it.
The audio design overall is a great package. The game could have benefitted from voice overs done in English, but the Japanese voice-overs are great at conveying both the personality and story of each character. The game’s soundtrack is a great fit as well, driving the action forward without distracting from the experience.
Overall, Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God is an entertaining experience for players willing to put in the time. The exploration and combat are fun, the characters and story are humorous and endearing, and the audio-visual experience is cute and engaging. The game will inherently lose appeal to folks intimidated by its harsh rogue-like nature, but fans of the genre will be quite happy with the time they’ve spent to save a small curry restaurant.
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